THE HUB - Feature Article

  • Budget Request Addresses Class Size, Compensation Needs

    Posted by Melvin Edwards on 1/3/2019

    When I delivered my first budget address as Superintendent four years ago, I spoke of our need to forge new pathways of access, equity, and excellence for all of our students. I spoke about the ways in which our students were engaged and challenged, and the inquisitiveness we seek to instill in them every single day.


    I also spoke about the backbone of that work: the incredible people I am privileged to work alongside in our school system. They are truly the heroes of our singular mission to Elevate All Students and Eliminate All Gaps. They are the heart and soul behind the three simple words that guide our efforts — All Means All — and I continue to be inspired by them every day.


    The cumulative effect of our curricular work, the impact of our incredible employees, and the investment in partnerships from local businesses, government agencies, and community organizations has paid incredible dividends over the last four years. To be sure, we have significant challenges, both inside the classroom and outside of it. I ask everyone, however, to stand with us and continue to invest in the future: our children.


    The $1.26 billion Fiscal Year 2020 operating budget recommendation I presented to the Board of Education on December 19 provides sufficient funding for multiple compensation increases for employees, additional teachers to address enrollment increases and help incrementally reduce class size, and positions to continue to help address the social and emotional needs of students.


    My recommendation allocates $7.5 million to fund the second half of the mid-year compensation increase provided to employees in the current year. It also includes $14 million to fund a step increase for all eligible employees in all bargaining units and an equivalent increase for non-represented employees, and another $13.6 million as a compensation placeholder for additional increases for employees, subject to negotiations with our bargaining units. This funding is sufficient to provide an additional step for eligible employees, cost-of-living increases for all employees, or some other distribution — including back steps — that a bargaining unit may desire to negotiate.


    I have included funding for 295.6 additional positions, 92 percent of which are allocated to people who have daily interactions with children. There are 201 additional classroom teaching positions, 45 of which will address enrollment increases and another 116 of which will help further reduce class sizes.


    We have talked for several years about the growing social and emotional needs of students, and the fact that we are seeing more extreme behavioral issues and at younger ages than ever before. I am asking for $1.4 million for 13 positions – seven school counselors, three school psychologists, and three social workers — to help in this area.


    This budget recommendation also contains $3.1 million for 47.3 positions to address enrollment increases and enhanced student needs in special education, and $2.4 million for 25 English Language Acquisition teachers, 10 bilingual teaching assistants, two bilingual facilitators, and a technician to assist students and their families.


    This recommendation also includes $742,800 to expand the successful Triple E program to the five elementary schools in the Broadneck cluster, and funding for the first 8.5 positions for the new Crofton Area High School, including the principal.


    We continue to have a lot of work to do. I am committed to doing everything I can to accomplish that work, and I firmly believe that the right ingredients exist to bring about the results that we all want. Indeed, what we do now — all of us — through this budget and every other endeavor, will help determine the future of our county, our state, and our nation.


    To every resident of this county, I say clearly that this is not my work. This is not your work. This is our work. These are our children. All of them. And All Means All.


    The writer is Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. He can be reached at superintendent@aacps.org.

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